Martin Truex Jr. did not have a strong start to the 2023 NASCAR season as he only produced one top-10 finish through the first seven races; however, the momentum of the No. 19 team has drastically shifted over the last five weeks.
Truex has four top-5 finishes in the last five races with the only blemish being a 27th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway. This includes the 42-year-old’s first points-paying victory since the 2021 season at Dover Motor Speedway.
With Truex back in victory lane and producing pretty solid results, the topic of conversation has shifted toward his possible retirement at the conclusion of the 2023 season. While there is not a definite answer, he has given a timeline for when the decision will be made this year.
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Martin Truex Jr. gives timeline on his decision involving retirement from NASCAR in 2023
Truex has started to look like his old self again and this has Joe Gibbs Racing in high spirits as three of its four NASCAR Cup Series drivers now have victories. In fact, Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, talked about his hopes for the New Jersey native after his win at Dover.
Gibbs said that he wants Truex to drive the No. 19 car as long as possible and giving him winning equipment is the best way to convince him. The team has been in constant contact with the 42-year-old driver since he was deciding on retirement during the 2022 season.
Truex has been quiet on his future during this season but it is important to note that a decision was made in June 2022 for this campaign. Would there be a similar timeline on a decision for the 2024 season?
According to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Truex said a decision on his potential retirement from the Cup Series will come at the “end of June.” If this remains true, he is just under two months away from letting his future plans publicly known.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been wildly successful in the second half of his NASCAR career as he won the 2017 Cup Series championship with Furniture Row Racing and has 32 victories to his name.
Many speculated that Truex could retire if another winless season took place but that narrative has clearly gone away. In fact, he previously said at Daytona 500 Media Day that if he is winning races, he would “probably” return for the 2024 season.
With Darlington Raceway coming next weekend, Truex could very likely have another win to his name at one of his better tracks. It will be interesting to see how he performs over the next two months as his decision on retirement is getting closer.
However, what if Truex does decide to hang up the gloves and retire from NASCAR? Continue reading below to find out three realistic candidates for Joe Gibbs Racing in this scenario!
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3 realistic candidates for Joe Gibbs Racing if Martin Truex Jr. retires in 2023
Joe Gibbs Racing hopes to have its star driver back in the No. 19 car for the 2024 season; however, it is important to have backup plans in case their original goal goes haywire. Luckily, there are two drivers already waiting in the wings.
John Hunter Nemechek drives for the organization in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and would be a perfect candidate if Truex retires at the end of 2023. Nemechek, 25, has two Xfinity Series wins in 2023 after climbing back up the ladder with Toyota Racing.
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The 25-year-old driver moved down to the NASCAR Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports a few years ago in hopes to rebuild his career. Now, Nemechek is in line for a good ride but Joe Gibbs Racing could lose him if there are no open seats next season.
Sammy Smith also drives for the organization’s Xfinity Series program and is considered NASCAR’s top prospect. Smith, 18, will likely end up at Joe Gibbs Racing’s Cup Series program but it is a matter of when that will occur.
The 18-year-old driver has shown great speed for a driver of his age after jumping straight to the Xfinity Series. Smith will be around a long time so one more season in the Xfinity Series wouldn’t hurt; however, it can’t be ruled out if he goes on a big summer run.
Riley Herbst has driven for Joe Gibbs Racing in the past and has the sponsorship to make him a consideration. Herbst, 24, has yet to win an Xfinity Series race but is currently having his best season to date.
The 24-year-old driver would not be a flashy name but it would not hurt to bring in sponsorship and give him a chance while Smith continues to develop. Herbst probably needs a breakthrough victory but it certainly feels like it is on the verge of happening right now.
Joe Gibbs Racing will have several options available to them if Martin Truex Jr. does retire due to the equipment level. For now, the team will continue to pursue Truex and hope he makes the decision to return soon.